AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives Department has opened a new exhibit honoring native Alabama author and educator Dr. Wade Hall. In 2018 Dr. Hall’s estate donated more than 1,600 20th century paperback books to Auburn University. These books represent excellent examples of paperback novel production and illustration during the modernist and postmodernist era.
“We are very grateful to the family of Dr. Hall for entrusting the care of this excellent collection of 20th Century paperbacks to us,” said Greg Schmidt, special collections librarian at Auburn University Libraries. “What they tell us about the dreams, morals and mores of the period they come from is an illuminating window into the time.”
A native of Alabama, Hall is the author of “Conecuh People: Words of Life from the Alabama Black Belt,” an oral history of his home community. The book was made into a successful play that is still presented regularly in Union Springs. The first of his family to graduate high school, Hall earned a BS from Troy State Teachers College, an MA from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.
Hall spent most of his career in Kentucky. In 1962, he became the head of the Kentucky Southern College English department, and in 1969, he moved to Bellarmine College where he taught for 30 years and chaired the English and Humanities programs. While there, he edited the Kentucky Poetry Review and was the host of a long-running interview show, “Wade Hall’s Kentucky Desk.” Throughout his life, Dr. Hall was a passionate collector of books and Southern Americana. In 2006, Hall and his partner, Gregg Swem, returned to Union Springs. Wade Hall passed away in 2015. Hall wanted his collections to be shared, and he eventually donated significant collections to the universities of Alabama and Kentucky and to art museums in Birmingham, Mobile, and Columbus (Ga.).
In honor of Wade Hall, Special Collections is displaying a small number of his collected novels. The exhibit will includes works dating from 1912 until the late 1950s to illustrate production and illustration during the modernist and postmodernist era. In addition to Wade Hall’s collection, Betty Ballantine, co-founder of Bantam and Ballantine Books, will be highlighted in memory of the legacy she and her husband built with paperback novels. Bantam and Ballantine Books represent a significant proportion of works in the Wade Hall paperback collection.
The Wade Hall 20th Century Paperbacks exhibit is open during all Special Collections and Archives hours of business and is located on the ground floor of the Ralph Brown Draughon Library. The exhibit will run through the end of 2019. For a full list of Special Collections and Archives hours, visit https://www.lib.auburn.edu/hours/spec
Auburn University Libraries serves the more than 30,000 students and faculty of Auburn with a collection in excess of 3.6 million volumes. The Special Collections and Archives Department collects, preserves, and houses rare and unique items relating to the histories of Auburn University, the state of Alabama, the southeastern region, the Civil War, Native Americans and aviation. The Auburn University Digital Library develops accessible digital collections of materials that support the teaching and research of Auburn faculty and students, and that, in turn, further the mission of Auburn University. These collections are made available to researchers, educators and students in the state, nation and the world.
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